Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mary and Max (2009)

16maryandmaxMary and Max turned up on my library queue. I didn’t recall the seedling for this selection--the joy of surprise. I was smitten with this Claymation/stop motion film.

It begins in Australia in 1976 (in shades of browns with occasional pops of color) with eight-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle (little Mary voiced by Bethany Whitmore; older Mary voiced by Toni Collette)living with her alcoholic mother and detached father who spends his free time in his shed drinking Baileys and stuffing road-killed birds. Mary has no friends and her favorite show is called The Noblets.

Mary has been told that babies come from beer glasses. She decides to ask someone in America if babies there come from cans of cola since Americans drink so much of it.

In New York City (in shades of blacks, white and greys with seldom bursts of red), enter a 44-year-old Autistic man, Max Horowitz (voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman), also a fan of The Noblets. One day, he receives a question-filled letter from a young Aussie.

There begins a 22-year pen-pal relationship through pivotal events in both their lives. It’s isn’t, however, a movie for children. There are candid discussions on loneliness, depression, suicide, overeating, Asperger's Syndrome and where babies come from in America. Their letters are charmingly simple and direct. The details and opinions are rich, thoughtful and come to life quickly. You relish hearing the letters. Mary’s explanations of complicated situations and her interpretations are entertaining. Max doesn’t know how to pull punches in his answers and details of his daily struggles.

The clay figures possess great expressions and micro-movements. Color choices are excellent and make for a visual treat. Sound effects and music well suited to the action. The best film I’ve seen in months.

Writer/Director: Adam Elliot

Country: Australia

Genre: Animation/Dramedy

Run time: 90 minutes

Scale: 5

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